Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Armstrong Interview

Cyclingnews has a new, exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong (here). Here's the bottom line of his defense:

My generation was no different than any other. The 'help' has evolved over the years but the fact remains that our sport is damn hard, the Tour was invented as a 'stunt, and very tough mother f**kers have competed for a century and all looked for advantages. From hopping on trains a 100 years ago to EPO now. No generation was exempt or 'clean'. Not Merckx's, not Hinault's, not LeMond's, not Coppi's, not Gimondi's, not Indurain's, not Anquetil's, not Bartali's, and not mine.
Whatever you think of Armstrong as a person, the fact of the matter is that he's right. Cycling is, and always has been, a sport for "tough mother f**kers," looking for any advantage they could find in a "damn hard" sport. It's even true among the higher ranks of amateur cycling, where stories of doping abound (see, e.g., here).

Armstrong should, of course, be held responsible for his doping and for his misconduct towards others (including the Andreus), but he should not be deemed uniquely responsible, or even substantially more
responsible than many, many others, for besmirching the previously pristine reputation of the sport.


  1. I agree with you that Armstrong is partially responsible for the current situation in cycling. He is such a prominent figure in the sport and acts as a focal point for others in and outside of cycling--helping to define the sport to many people. He is not the only person responsible by a long shot though. The governing bodies in the sport have been so inconsistent in the way they have enforced the rules of the game, that the athletes have had no framework to build up trust--which is vital.

    Now the question is: How can cycling get rid of the omerta and develop an atmosphere of trust?

    I would say the first step is making sure that the UCI and WADA get on the same page and send a clear signal to athletes that the old rules no longer apply.

  2. I'm skeptical of efforts to completely (or even substantially) clean-up any sport. The incentives to gain an edge are just too great, especially in cycling, where the combination of big money and the sheer physiological challenges involved make doping so attractive (some might even say necessary). Unless the organizers of the Tour de France and other races dramatically reduce the physiological challenges, e.g., by curtailing multiple mountain stages, and financial rewards, I don't really see much impetus for change.

    Sure, the UCI and WADA might better combine forces to fight doping, but the doping prevention agencies always seem a step or two behind the researchers who are creating better and more difficult to detect PEDs. It's just as much an uphill battle as any race up Alpe d'Huez.


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